Among the real estate terminology that confuses home buyers and sellers is the term “selling agent.”
The selling agent is, in fact, the agent representing the buyer in the purchase of a home, not to be confused (hopefully) with the seller’s agent, also referred to as the listing agent.
The reasoning behind calling a buyer’s agent the selling agent is that the buyer’s agent is the one who actually sells the home. The listing agent could, of course, sell his listing himself, but 90% of the time (actually closer to 95% of the time), the home is sold by another agent who shows the home to a buyer and then writes the contract to purchase it. In return for finding the buyer, the listing agent then shares his or her listing commission with the selling agent. It’s called the “co-op” commission, because the selling agent is cooperating with the listing agent to sell the listing.
I like to compare our industry to the automobile industry. Picture, for a moment, a sales person working for a Chevrolet dealership being able to bring a buyer to a Subaru dealership, get the keys to any of the cars on the lot, give multiple test drives and then get paid 40 to 50% of a Subaru sales person’s commission for selling one of that dealer’s cars. That’s how real estate works. The Mulitple Listing Service, or MLS, was created to facilitate such “cooperation and compensation” in the real estate industry. It benefits both buyer and seller as well as both real estate agents.